PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Thanks, Stevie and Tabitha! An excellent and amusingly bitchy guide...
I can't believe you quoted Madonna.
Stevie, Just came across an article mirroring your sentiment:
The 15th annual Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair — aka SOFA NEW YORK – opens tomorrow at the Park Avenue Armory, but the preview was tonight, and I went. It’s interesting, and I use the adjective purposefully. Only one booth really stood out.
The organizers mixed it up this year, hiring architect David Ling to create a different ambiance — and he did. Visitors enter through a white tunnel, and come upon an open area with seating and, tonight, a bar and a table of nibbles. A few booths hug the drill hall’s perimeter behind the entrance and the rest are on a grid with both vertical and horizonal aisles. White sculptural elements (floating blocks, I think they are called) are hung from the ceiling, effectively lowering it.
All of this creates a more intimately scaled space, although one dealer I spoke with said the booths are the same size as last year’s. To him, and me, they feel smaller. He wasn’t sure he liked this feeling, but he told me he would reserve judgment until Saturday, to see how collectors felt. (He did not know I was a reporter, so I am not naming him.)
But clearly SOFA realizes that fairs are proliferating, and was trying to differentiate itself. Normally, that’s a good move for a business, so long as customers don’t rebel against it (think New Coke, if you’re old enough). I wouldn’t predict a rebellion here.
But what’s at the fair – again, it’s mixed. I saw no “masterpiece,” no breakthrough in craft, but rather a lot of very routine offerings that everyone has seen a million times before. In a few cases, people one might well imagine that they were in an upmarket gift store and, in one case of jewelry, a local crafts fair.
For the rest of it, click on the link above.
Beneath the snarky humor (love it, thank you Stevie) lies a current of truth. The same thread shows up in the Arts Journal article, namely "sameness". This can also be interpreted as a an aversion to risk taking. Considering the cost of these shows, and and financial risk to the artists participating in them, artists seem to be playing it safe. Either that, or we have collectively lost our creative edge. I sincerely doubt that, judging by what I see here on Crafthaus.
The real truth to all of this will be in the sales figures. Do the buyers share the critic's jaded eye? Odds are they don't. Safety in sameness is a pattern that plays out time and time again in creative markets. Not that I am predicting stellar sales at SOFA - quite the opposite. The show organizer's attempts at "differentiating" themselves by changing the draperies is not likely to achieve the desired results. Organizing a different kind of SOFA show will differentiate it. But then we're back to risk taking...
Dauvit - I know, I know. I should have posted an anti-Madonna disclaimer. The song just sort of fit.
Brigitte - It's good to know that other felt the same. Next year we will do the opening night & 1 day at the show. Tabitha's trying to persuade me into staying in the city for a few days. We live approx 20min away and I would rather drive home and sleep in my own bed. I wonder when she will start her "gently prodding".
2Roses - Humor? What humor? Snarky for sure!
I spoke with one of the gallery owners about "sameness". The gist was that 90% of what he displays, he displays because it has a track record of selling. The other 10% is left for new artists. He said this was pretty common in his circles and that many galleries only deal with known sellers.
Makes sense to me on the business side. The 90/10 strangely is the same amount Stephen King had said book publisher break down known writers/unknowns. And only 10% of those 10% will ever make enough to make a living writing. Of course things may have changed since then but it seems better odds then jewelry artist will ever have making a living at their art.
I also had a brief discussion with another gallery owner about the secondary market for art jewelry which he said is actually growing. I wish I had asked about prices however...Do they hold their value? Decrease? Increase? Oh well, maybe next time.
Yeah, I just checked out the secondary market. Thomas Mann is tearing it up over on ebay
Nicely done review. Love the shoes but they definitely look painful for walking through SOFA (which may be an apt metaphor.)
Going to SOFA always makes me feel a little queasy.
The wonderful and the not so wonderful are all measured by a price tag.
When value is established by a price tag alone....it is a viewing challenge.
I always thought this was the norm. An artist = the price his last piece sold for.
Your right, no catalogue. I have this small book that says SOFA 2012 and I had mistakenly thought it was a mini-catalogue. But it's not :(
2011, last of the real giant sized SOFA catalogues.
Very interesting...Thanks for sharing and the e-mail. I don't get a chance to go to these shows very often...and it is really nice to see it!!! Please do more!!!